Are you dying to dye your hair and shake things up with a fresh color this summer? Trying out a new look can be an exciting undertaking, but it can also hurt your confidence if you choose an unflattering option. Although you should always prioritize your personal taste and the colors you feel best in when determining a new hair color, it also helps determine which colors see the best for you and your complexion.
An experienced hairstylist can always work with you to determine the most flattering shades for you. However, if you want to get a head start on the decision-making process, there are a few basic rules to consider. To find out more, we spoke to celebrity Janine Jarman Hair stylist, owner of Hairroin Salon and founder of Curl Cult, and Justina Blakeney, founder and Hair Wig designer at Niawigs. These experts told us that creating a balance between your skin tones and your hair tones is key.
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Determine your skin tones
Both Jarman and Blakeney say that the first step to finding the best hair color for you is to consider which tones are most prominent in your skin tone. Jarman says it’s important to note this because the key to finding a flattering hair color is to strike a balance between cool and warm tones.
When it comes to skin tones, Blakeney says “the majority of people are categorized as warm, cool, or neutral.” If you don’t know which category you belong to, there are several ways to find out.
A good place to start is to examine the color of the veins in your wrists. “You’re cold if your veins are blue or purple. You’re hot if they’re green,” says Blakeney. It seems simple enough!
If you’re still unsure, however, Jarman offers another trick, which is to break some aluminum foil. “Stand directly under a light in front of a mirror and hold a piece of aluminum foil,” she orders. “Then replace it with gold leaf and figure out what’s most flattering to you as it reflects on your skin.” She says that while foil is more flattering, you’re likely to have cool skin tones, while those that look better in gold have warmer skin tones.
Compare skin tones to eye color
Once you have determined your skin tones, the next factor to consider is your eye color. This step should be a no-brainer – as long as you know what color your eyes are, all you have to do is figure out if it’s cool or warm!
“Blues, greens, and grays are all cool; browns, hazelnuts, and ambers are all warm,” notes Jarman.
After determining which category your own irises fall into, all you have to do is use it in conjunction with your skin tones to decide whether your hair color should be warm or cool. Jarman says the key is to use a 2:1 formula: “Either 2 cold and 1 hot, or 2 hot and 1 cold,” she explains. This means that if your skin tone and eye color are both cool, adding some warmth to your hair is probably the best option; likewise, if you have a warm complexion and warm eyes, opt for a cooler hair shade. And Jarman says those with mismatched tones in their eyes and skin are lucky: “You can wear any tone in your hair!”
Blakeney offers similar tips for choosing a flattering shade based on your skin tone. For those with porcelain skin tones, she says, “cool blonde colors are fantastic because the cool tones help balance out the redness.” If you have lighter skin with cool undertones, she suggests opting for “warm tones like strawberry blonde, copper, honey, and gold.”
On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a lot of warmer tones in your skin and eyes, Blakeney cautions against hair colors with lots of yellow and suggests choosing cooler hair shades instead. “Warm peachy skin tones will see their skin pop with cooler auburn reds,” she notes.
If you really don’t know which way to go, you can’t go wrong with using a mix of tones in your hair color. According to Jarman, “a balance of cool and warm tones in your hair, or neutral, can work on any skin tone and eye color combination.”
Ultimately, the best hair color for you will mostly come down to personal preference. Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from, regardless of your skin tone or eye color. In fact, your hair can be as dark or as light as your heart desires and still be flattering, as long as you work to balance all of the tones. “Anywhere on the light to dark color spectrum can be flattering as long as you have the right balance,” Jarman concludes.